Coastal Carolina

CCU alumna Campbell nets U.S. hammer throw title, berth in world championships

Coastal Carolina alumna Amber Campbell gestures No. 1 after winning the hammer throw at the U.S. Outdoor Track & Field Championships on Saturday.
Coastal Carolina alumna Amber Campbell gestures No. 1 after winning the hammer throw at the U.S. Outdoor Track & Field Championships on Saturday. Submitted photo

Amber Campbell once again will be sporting red, white and blue.

The Coastal Carolina alumna won the women’s hammer throw at the U.S. Outdoor Track & Field Championships on Saturday in Eugene, Ore., clinching a spot to compete for the United States at the IAAF World Championships in late August.

“It felt great. There was some really tough competition today,” Campbell said. “There were some really talented women throwing. I just executed with good technique toward the end like I have been all season.”

Campbell won with a toss of 237 feet, 5 inches, eclipsing runner-up Deanna Price’s best throw by 3 inches on her final attempt.

“It was thrilling, especially for Amber to do that on her last throw,” said Alan Connie, the retired Chanticleers coach who worked with Campbell in college and attended the meet. “What a champion.”

While she had already clinched at least a runner-up finish and spot on the U.S. world championships team, Campbell’s final toss netted her a third outdoor title and ninth overall national title.

“It definitely makes for an exciting competition,” Campbell said of the event coming down to her final throw. “I just wanted to put it all on the line and gut it out. I was blessed to come out with a win.”

It provided quite a show for those looking on, Connie said.

“She just let it go and the crowd went ‘Woo!’ because you could tell it was over 72 meters (over 236 feet) and it won the event,” he said.

Campbell, who throws for Mjolnir Throwers Club and Nike, will be competing in her fifth world championships at a venue she’s familiar with. The event will be held at Beijing National Stadium, nicknamed the “Bird’s Nest,” where she competed as an Olympian in 2008.

And she feels like she’s peaking at a good time.

“Technically, I’m feeling better than I’ve ever felt,” said Campbell, who also competed in the 2012 Olympics in London. “I just want to keep building confidence and get in the ring and battle against greatest competitors in the world.”

Campbell’s throwing coach, David Vandergriff, was unable to attend Saturday’s meet, something she said didn’t affect her because “Coach Vandergriff always coaches me to use feel to figure it out” during a competition.

“She’s just got so much composure and so much self confidence,” Connie said. “Even though her coach wasn’t there she was able to make the adjustments she needed to make throughout the six throws to come out as a champion again.”

Campbell said she will compete in a few more events before the world championships, the biggest stage of the 2015 slate.

“My goal this year is to keep improving on what I did in the past to get to the final and compete for a medal,” Campbell said.

It will be yet another chance on one of the world’s biggest stages for the athlete who started to make her name as a five-time All-American at Coastal Carolina.

“I don’t know how many people who’ve been two-time Olympians and competed in five world championships. You can probably count it on one hand,” Connie said. “… How proud Myrtle Beach and the state of South Carolina have been of her today.”

Contact DAVID WETZEL at 626-0295. Follow sports news on Twitter @MYBSports.

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